What are common interview questions?

Before you step into a job interview, it’ll be wise to prepare yourself for some of the most common interview questions that will be asked.

You've submitted your CV, made it through the initial screening process, and now you're ready for the interview and the challenging questions that usually come with it.

This is your opportunity to demonstrate you're the best person for the position. The way you handle yourself during the interview is one of the main factors that ultimately determines whether you get the job.

The good news is, you can generally prepare in advance for those common interview questions you are likely to be asked. The following are some of the most typical interview questions in Japan, and insights into what a hiring manager may be looking for in your answers.

Question #1: "Tell me a little about yourself"
This is the ice-breaker in the interview world, and it's always a challenge to answer because it's so broad. The best approach is to narrow the scope of the question by focusing on aspects of your background that make you qualified for the position. From there, you can talk about your interest in this particular job and company.

Question #2: "Tell me about your last job"
Most interviewers are looking for a direct link between your responsibilities in your most recent position and the job they have open. This is your chance to highlight your transferable skills and talk about specifics, including who you reported to, the number of people you managed, how your position fit into the company's big picture and the contributions you have made. Make sure you are not general in your answers. Tell the interviewer what your day-to-day is like and how those responsibilities have prepared you for the current position you're seeking.

Question #3: "What are your strengths?"
While you'll always want to tailor your most applicable skills to the job description, companies also value people who demonstrate flexibility and can fill in where necessary on occasion. You'll also want to mention those strengths that are relevant in almost any position, such as solid communication skills and your ability to work well on a team.

Question #4: "What are your weaknesses?"
This one can be the bane of the interviewee's existence. After all, it's difficult enough admitting your downfalls to those you know well, much less someone whom you've just met. This isn't the time to beat yourself up: Don't talk about all those projects you started but didn't have time to finish at your last job. Instead, be candid and brief. Maybe planning wasn't your strong suit in the past, but you've found an organisational system that keeps you on track. The interviewer will want to hear not just what your weakness is, but the steps you have taken to improve or overcome them.

Question #5: "Why should I hire you?"
Don't get caught up in what may appear to be an easy answer ("Because I'm the best person for the job"). Instead, hone in on specific qualities that make you a good fit for this position. Talk about what you know about the job from the description and how you can make a significant contribution. Then relate examples of your skills to back it up.

Question #6: "What's the biggest problem you faced in your last job, and how did you solve it?"
An interviewer who asks this question is looking for insight into what you consider a challenge and how you would handle a difficult situation. Come prepared with two or three examples of difficulties you overcame on the job that are relevant to the position for which you are interviewing for.

Question #7: "What kind of salary do you require?"
Generally, it's better to postpone discussions about salary until you have a thorough understanding of the job responsibilities and what the employer is willing to pay. But in case it does come up early in the interview process, be sure you know your monetary requirements and market value. Your perceived 'value' is generally the basis of most companies' salary decisions.

The questions covered above are not all encompassing, but you will probably encounter many of them during the interview process. By practicing your answers to these commonly asked questions in advance and knowing what not to say, you'll be well on your way to a successful meeting, and maybe a new job as well.

Let us help you find the right job